Important: Tasneem Khalil arrested by military police


by Sunny
11th May, 2007 at 3:40 am    

I’ve just had an email informing me that prominent journalist Tasneem Khalil has been arrested by the military police in Bangladesh, a serious attack on press freedom in the country. An editor and outspoken journalist for the English daily newspaper Daily Star, he also worked for CNN and Human Rights Watch in the country. Of late he has been documenting the military’s attempts to take over Bangladesh and restrict political rights and free speech in the country.
Mash says:

Apparently Mr. Khalil’s crime is that he did his job. He spoke truthfully about the current situation in Bangladesh. He was interviewed by Nora Boustany of the Washington Post last month – that interview may have cost him his freedom and now possibly his life.

I have been speaking out over the last month about the military takedown of the democratic system in Bangladesh. One by one the fundamental rights of Bangladeshis have been taken away. But, Bangladeshis have recently started to fight back against the military. The press, the people and the courts have begun speaking out. The military now aims to silence them. Their thuggery is now plain to see.

Other bloggers covering: Drishtipat, Global Voices, Rezwanul, Golmal Sid, Salam Dhaka, Keep me honest, My dear Bangladesh, Adda, Deshi Voice and Butterflies and Wheels.

Human Rights Watch has also issued a press release. SD says this has also been elevated to the US State dept and Washington Post should be doing a story.

We need to organise joint protests in Washington and London in front of the Bangladeshi embassies to raise the profile of this arrest and highlight human rights abuses there. Who’s with me? Email me if you’re interested or post below.

Update 1: Coverage now at: CNN, IHT, Washington Post, Reuters Alertnet and the BBC.

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Filed in: Bangladesh,Civil liberties,Media






77 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. The Power of Choice » Free Tasneem!

    [...] close family and friends and to the safe release of Tasneem Khalil. My friend Sunny has posted this message and is planning to organise a protest in London at the Bangladeshi Embassey to free [...]


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  3. Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying » Breaking: Reporters Under Attack In Bangladesh

    [...] For readers in the UK, Pickled Politics is organizing an e-petition to the British [...]


  4. Serious Golmal » Tasneem Khalil Arrested

    [...] 2: Pickled Politics is in the process of organising an e-petition and a weekend protest in front of the Bangladesh High Commssion in [...]


  5. Robert Sharp » Blog Archive » Journalists in Trouble

    [...] There are rumours that this detention will be shortlived, and that he might be released by the weekend. Regardless, the Internet is already being used to co-ordinate a campaign for his release: There is a possibility of a protest outside the Bangladeshi embassy in London, and campaigners will be raising awareness within the Bangladeshi community in the UK, at the Brick Lane Mela this weekend. Pickled Politics has more information. [...]




  1. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 9:10 am  

    OH MY GOD! That’s AWFUL! are they crazy or what? they’re way out of line here. i’m definitely with you on this one. let’s get the word out and hopefully in bangladesh they won’t stand for this either.

  2. Mash — on 11th May, 2007 at 9:20 am  

    I’m in on the Washington side.

  3. sid — on 11th May, 2007 at 10:19 am  

    Thanks for putting this up Sunny. The more exposure this gets the better the likelihood that Tasneem and others will be released unharmed.

  4. Leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 10:32 am  

    Wtf?! Sunny, have you emailed other bloggers (including the righwing ones which should support this call)? I’m up for the London protest, when you thinking?

  5. Amit — on 11th May, 2007 at 10:49 am  

    OMG that’s just unbelieveable. Tasneem and I have been exchanging messages on our blogs for quite some time. I’m definitely with you on this one, I’ll be there for any protest efforts for sure!

    Amit

  6. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 11:01 am  

    yep we need to mobilise our networks – blogosphere, facebook whatever. and use whatever we can to get the word out there.

  7. Leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 11:26 am  

    yep we need to mobilise our networks – blogosphere, facebook whatever. and use whatever we can to get the word out there.

    Exactly.

  8. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 11:50 am  

    and other media outlets – i think we need to tap into the power of diasporic networks. it is an outrage what the military are doing – we won’t stand for it! if they think they’re turning us into a military dictatorship they can THINK AGAIN!

  9. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 11:52 am  

    right ive been in and out of meetings and will be for the rest of the day but will put up a post on the blog asap. will check back in later to see how plans for demonstrations/publicity are progressing.

  10. farid bakht — on 11th May, 2007 at 12:08 pm  

    I would like to thank you for putting this up and urge all to register their disapproval and disgust.
    Having met him only once, he suddenly emailed me last tuesday evening. That makes it even more shocking to me that he was arrested, as he seemed unaware that he was in imminent trouble.
    I hope the UK diaspora pushes hard for his release and also raise questions about the diplomatic position re: the state of emergency.

  11. Halima — on 11th May, 2007 at 12:20 pm  

    Thanks Sunny.

    I spotted this in the ealry hours on the Drishtipat website and was horrified, had gone to bed the night before thinking about Alan J, too, so this was a double whammy to wake up, to.

    Let us know when the time/date for London protest – perhaps we can organise with other civil liberties group if we can get the message out fast enough.

  12. Robert — on 11th May, 2007 at 12:30 pm  

    About the actual protest in London. When? The sooner a date and time is agreed and publicised, the better. Reactions to these things need to be quick and decisive, I reckon…

    … although they do need enough time to snowball, I suppose. Either way, its well worth PP being proactive on this, I reckon.

  13. sid — on 11th May, 2007 at 12:43 pm  

    farid – I’d like to thank you for the great work you’ve done in reporting the abuses of the shambolic democratic processes overseen by the BNP-Jamaat coalition and the abuses of the military-led CareTaker Government. You da man!

  14. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 12:43 pm  

    Yeah i guess what we need to ascertain is how many people we can get down to a demonstration when – has anyone got access to ‘community groups’ etc. to beef no’s up etc.???

  15. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 12:50 pm  

    who the hell is this bloody caretaker government anyway?

  16. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

    yeah robert’s got a good point – we need it to be soon as poss. And CNN has carried the story – we need the mainstream British press to carry the story – i know bangladesh is small fry but STILL! anyone any strings to pull?

  17. Halima — on 11th May, 2007 at 12:54 pm  

    I can speak to community grops in East London.

    Once we know the time/date I can get in touch with London chapter of Human Rights Watch (they have issued the press release).

  18. sid — on 11th May, 2007 at 12:59 pm  

    Here is the CNN press release. Tasneem was the CNN rep in Dhaka.

  19. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:07 pm  

    as soon as ive got a moment to sit down for more than 2 mins ill repost whatever i put up on my blog on the indymedia uk site.

  20. Leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:08 pm  

    We need a time and date for the protest then we can get the word out to our respective networks.

  21. sabinaahmed — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:15 pm  

    How about a petition on the web for those of us who cant get to London? The more signatures we get the better,which then can be sent to the Hig Commission.
    Am sure there are many more like me who cant get to London at short notice.

  22. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:23 pm  

    yeah sabina maybe we could have one of those online petitions…pressure Tony to do one last thing before he leaves!

    also there is a bangladeshi embassy in Birmingham…

  23. Leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:24 pm  

    How about a petition on the web for those of us who cant get to London? The more signatures we get the better, which then can be sent to the Hig Commission.
    Am sure there are many more like me who cant get to London at short notice.

    Good idea. So far we have three strands I can see;

    *Online presence through blogs, media, petitions, social media
    *London protest
    *Network communications, email lists etc

  24. Halima — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:25 pm  

    online petition is good

    I don’t know about petition etiquette – but it would be good to see a united one .. Should we combine and send one out with Drishtipat??

    H

  25. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:32 pm  

    halima – anyone can start the online petition at No. 10′s website ( well you have to live in the UK) seeing as you are petitioning the UK govt. Then the idea is you send the link to EVERYONE YOU KNOW who also lives in the UK ( you have to have a valid address) and they sign it. So it doesn’t matter who starts it – however it might be useful to work out the wording of what it is we want to put in the petition.

  26. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

    this is the link to the e-petitions site – im happy to do the admin if we can agree some wording? then we can all send the link out to all our networks here in the UK

    http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/

  27. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:35 pm  

    “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to…”

    “….urge the Bangladeshi caretaker government to immediately release journalist, blogger and human rights activist Tasneem Khalil’..

    something like that?!

  28. Halima — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:40 pm  

    Thanks Sonia and for volunteering, the text sounds good to me.

    H

  29. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:41 pm  

    and then if Sunny is willing we can post the URL to the e-petition actually on this site..so everyone can sign it!!

  30. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:46 pm  

    1000 characters max… so we keep it short and snappy

  31. rupahuq — on 11th May, 2007 at 1:51 pm  

    Hi, I think this was being foreshadowed at the Sheikh Hasina meeting last week at SOAS (blogged atwww.rupahuq.co.uk) when a chap in the audience made a point and tried to present her with relevant documentation after she claimed to have never heard of him. Or perhaps it was another outspoken critic/writer? Does anyone know? The response that the interlocutor got was being shooed out of the way (if not quite swatted) like a fly. The caretaker government is comprised of former judges and is a constitutional requirement. They oversee affairs pending elections. It’s meant to be neutral and last for a three month period but the current lot have by all accounts overstayed their welcome…

  32. sid — on 11th May, 2007 at 2:00 pm  

    Rupa, the person at the SOAS meeting last week was speaking of another remanded and disappeared journalist. Tasneem was arrested in the early hours of Friday night, Thursday night our time.

    But you’ve touched on the worrying point that Tasneem’s arrest and detainment underlines similar acts of intimdation of the media that is now being carried out by the military junta in control in Bangladesh.

  33. Sunny — on 11th May, 2007 at 2:02 pm  

    Ok folks, is this weekend too early for a protest or what? Maybe Sunday?

  34. Leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

    Sunday’s fine for me but is the embassy open then?

  35. sid — on 11th May, 2007 at 2:19 pm  

    None of the British news sites have picked this up, but, Stateside, CNN and the Washington Post have. What do you media gurus suggest?

  36. Leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 2:22 pm  

    What do you media gurus suggest?

    Press release stating opposition to his arrest, demanding his release, detailing upcoming protests and online petitions?

  37. rupahuq — on 11th May, 2007 at 2:45 pm  

    Dunno the opening hours but it’s not an embassy it’s a High Commission (which is what they are called in ex-colonies… umm.. I mean Commonwealth).

  38. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 2:55 pm  

    im free on sunday, ive got an all day conference tomorrow! plus 24 hours might not muster up enough people? though yeah the embassy wont be open. but if the media were there to watch…{which is what we need really.}

    Yeah sid’s got a good point. we need the media gurus’ advice! when the bbc and guardian realize that bloggers and people are making a BIG deal out of this, they’ll have to take note.

    does anyone anyone who might know the Ambassador?

    im not far from the embassy so i could even show up at lunch time on monday or something like that.

    sid – any recommendations for text for the e-petition? then i can get that created.

  39. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 2:55 pm  

    actually interestingly enough – i just mentioned this to one of my colleagues, and he pointed to Blair’s legacy which is of course detention without right to trial…

  40. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 3:04 pm  

    um yeah..embassy High Commission – same thing yaar..!

    As a Bangladeshi citizen i feel i should have every right to demand the Bangladeshi ambassador do all he can to bring some international pressure to bear on this matter.

  41. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 3:08 pm  
  42. AsifB — on 11th May, 2007 at 3:36 pm  

    There’ll be tens of thousdands of Bangladeshis down Brick Lane for Sunday’s Bengali New Year celebrations. (Which don’t even take place in the right month) and maybe one or two politicos on podiums to chase around.

    Away from the main crowds, you will find the usual few dozen sympathetic types will be down the Brady Centre for the annual Boi-Lit festival literature and politics discussions which includes a Drishtipat debate on the future of Bangladesh at 4pm. (Let’s face it, there isn’t much hope if anyone who can sends their kids abroad)

  43. Halima — on 11th May, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

    Sunday is difficult for me, will be travelling into London in the afternoon, but will make sure my family gets down there – and will alert some community groups in East London.

    Sonia – the Drishtipat site has now put up a petition, some ideas for text possibly…

    If anyone knows any one of the Bangla TV channels people this would be goood, as the images will be zoomed back to Bangladesh..

    In terms of news we need to write to the news editor for international pages on the weekend papers – if enough of us write, and they are interetested, they will pick up the facts/news from the wire services and run a story tomorrow. I’ve written to a few this morning, I suggest others do, too. NOW.

  44. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 3:55 pm  

    yes, i had a look to see if i could find the BBC correspondent in dhaka’s email address – john sudworth, but anyway i’ve found a phone no.

    we would need to get permission/or inform the police and poss. the council about a demonstration – we need to look into that. so looks like it won’t happen this weekend.

  45. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:01 pm  

    i see the Daily Star hasn’t written a thing on their website about this! Shocking i call it.

    so who’s going to this Mela on Sunday then?

  46. Halima — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:09 pm  

    The BBC man in Dhaka used to be Roland Burke but he might’ve moved on to Sri Lanka, I dunno.

    Have also sent an email to an old colleague who might might still be in touch Burke..

    Shame about the permission problem, wow, I didn’t realise that we needed permission in the UK for a protest, wow.

    Also just found out that Sunday is the day for the Baishaka Mela in Brick Lane – if anyone can hand out simple leaflets to raise awareness , that would be cool. And if TK hasn’t been released, we can use the mela to mobilise people for the demo if it happens..

  47. sid — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:14 pm  

    AsifB, I’ll be debating for democracy and electoral reform in the Bangladeshi polity at the Brady Center on Saturday – as part of a feature organised by Drishtipat for BoiLit. See you there.

  48. Ophelia Benson — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:23 pm  

    Unheard Voices has an update –

    http://www.drishtipat.org/blog/2007/05/10/tasneem-khalil-picked-up-by-army

    Update 7:7:50 pm BDT
    Release promised at 9.30 pm Bangladesh time. There will be massive media campaign if this promise does not materialise.

    —–

    Any newer news?

  49. sid — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:24 pm  

    my work are fucking blocking the DP blog!

  50. Leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

    I didn’t realise that we needed permission in the UK for a protest, wow.

    Yup, that’s how ‘free’ we are over here.

  51. Sunny — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:29 pm  

    Yeah I saw that Ophelia. Hopefully he will be released today. If not, protests Monday or Wednesday evening? I’m happy to come to Brick Lane and sitribute leaflets… will design one up later tonight.

  52. Halima — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:36 pm  

    Great Sunny, anything after Sunday I can help with..let’s hope 9.30 pm Dhaka time will bring some good news.

  53. Halima — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:38 pm  

    Also checked with the permission situation, they rarely refuse a permit we just have to ask for one.

  54. Leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:38 pm  

    Is there a org/website/whatever which focuses on kidnapping/political arrest and intimidation of journos/bloggers etc? Seems to me to be happening all to often these days and would warrant the existance/creation of such a thing if it doesn’t already exist…

  55. sid — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:47 pm  

    Agreed Leon, there really ought to be one. Two of the components of a healthy democracy are a free press and an independent judiciary. Both of which have been the target of right-wing governments, the Islamist parties and the military in Bangladesh.

  56. Don — on 11th May, 2007 at 4:50 pm  

    Whatever we can do is the least we can do. Petition, obviously. I’ll be emailing anyone who might remotely be of help in getting this into the light. The release promise is good, but still only words.

  57. Ophelia Benson — on 11th May, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

    Leon and all, there’s an organization called Journalists Without Borders, and another called something like The Committee to Protect Journalists; they both have websites (I’ve looked them up in the past, though I don’t have the URLs handy). Both are useful in the way HRW and AI are: they keep running track of this kind of thing.

  58. Ophelia Benson — on 11th May, 2007 at 5:11 pm  

    Here’s another –

    http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/83252/

    Looks like a very useful site.

  59. Leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 5:13 pm  

    That’s right, I’ve seen the Reporters Without Borders site…Friday afternoon/end of week brain not working syndrome…:D

  60. William — on 11th May, 2007 at 5:24 pm  

    The arresting of journalists in this way is appalling. Yet more oppression of state on people
    stamping on freedom of speech.

  61. William — on 11th May, 2007 at 5:25 pm  

    The arresting of journalists in this way is appalling.
    More oppression of state on people and stamping on freedom of speech.

  62. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 5:29 pm  

    Right I have submitted the petition to our mates at no. 10 – got an email back saying they will review it..so i dunno if i have to wait before it goes live on their system..presumably.. anyway ill stick up the URL as soon as that happens – or Sunny can.(pls) .on the main post!

  63. Leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 5:47 pm  
  64. Ophelia Benson — on 11th May, 2007 at 6:39 pm  

    Reporters Without Borders – d’oh – my brain not working too.

    Too bad the BBC couldn’t be bothered to spell his name right.

  65. sid — on 11th May, 2007 at 6:47 pm  

    I hear he’s been released!

  66. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 6:51 pm  

    thank goodness! what fabulous news.

  67. Robert — on 11th May, 2007 at 6:53 pm  

    Indeed. Although worryingly, this from Daily Star officer Mahfuz Anam:

    “I contacted the authorities concerned and was informed that him being questioned was not due to his journalistic work and had nothing to do with his functions at The Daily Star … In fact, it was because of the contents of his personal blog and some SMSs he had sent recently…”

    (via Drishtipat)

    Where is this personal blog?

  68. sid — on 11th May, 2007 at 6:54 pm  

    Tasneem’s blog:
    http://www.tasneemkhalil.com/

    A site for sore military eyes…

  69. sonia — on 11th May, 2007 at 6:56 pm  

    they’ll say it was because he’s an ‘anarchist’..

  70. leon — on 11th May, 2007 at 7:49 pm  

    some SMSs he had sent recently…

    That’s a tad more worrying than what’s written on his blog because that’s public. Just how did they know what text messages he’d been sending?

  71. Leighton Cooke — on 11th May, 2007 at 8:00 pm  

    I’ve put this up on jaiku.
    http://leighton.jaiku.com/presence/1975513

  72. Muhamad — on 13th May, 2007 at 5:48 pm  

    It’s not an emergency!
    It’s a revolution!
    One day the people of BD will stick those RAB guns up the RAB!
    One day BD will have thousands of Tasneem Khalils!

    And guess why?

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